Keep the family happy with our rainy day distractions

Bowling Alleys have re-opened after lockdown Photo: Superbowl UK

Bowling Alleys have re-opened after lockdown Photo: Superbowl UK - Credit: Archant

Every summer holiday has its cold, wet or overcast days which can present problems for families when all the kids want to do is run around on the beach. However, help is at hand with our handy guide to indoor or covered attractions which have re-opened after lockdown.

Cinemas have re-opened and are offering socially distanced screenings allowing families to escape th

Cinemas have re-opened and are offering socially distanced screenings allowing families to escape the rain Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant


Most cinemas are now re-open but screening times vary from cinema to cinema, week to week, depending on the films being screened. Cinemas are also operating under strict Covid-19 regulations meaning that face coverings should be worn and seating is reduced by two thirds with no-one sitting beside you or in front or behind. Many establishments are also doing temperature checks on arrival and booking in advance online is preferred.

For programmes and Covid restrictions for each cinema check online before arrival.

Christchurch Mansion is now reopen after lockdown and provides a fascinating trip back in time Pict

Christchurch Mansion is now reopen after lockdown and provides a fascinating trip back in time Picture: JULIE KEMP - Credit: JULIE KEMP

Riverside Cinema, Quayside, Woodbridge IP12 1BH

Phone: 01394 382174

Aldeburgh Cinema, High St, Aldeburgh IP15 5AU

Phone: 01728 454884

Abbeygate Cinema, Hatter Street, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1LZ

Phone: 01284 754477

Leiston Cinema, High Street, Leiston, IP16 4BZ

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Phone: 01728 830549

Felixstowe Palace, Crescent Rd, Felixstowe IP11 7NL

Phone: 01394 282787

Cineworld, Cardinal Park, Ipswich, IP1 1AX

Phone: 0330 333 4444

Cineworld, Bury St Edmunds, Parkway, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3BA

Phone: 0330 333 4444

Empire Cinema, Buttermarket, Ipswich, IP1 1DT

Superbowl UK Ipswich

Buttermarket Centre, St Stephens Lane, Ipswich IP1 1DT

Admission: £3/£5 (One game or two games)

Bowling Alleys have now re-opened but like many indoor venues, bowling allies are operating at reduced capacities and with social distancing regulations in effect. Superbowl are asking visitors to book online in advance, to wear your own shoes and use the hand sanitiser dotted around the venue.

Tenpin Ipswich

Gloster Rd, Martlesham Heath, IP5 3R

Tenpin at Martlesham offers bowling as well as pool and tale tennis. There is food available as well as special deals including £10 Thursdays (either two games and a drink or two games and a burger), Summer Holiday Deal (one game plus burger & fries for £5) Tenpin Tuesdays which offers 50% off or Friday Frenzy which offers 25% off. The Eat and Play deal offers two games and a meal for under £10. All bookings must be made online in advance and be for no more than six people in accordance with government regulations.

Noah’s Ark

7 Anchor St, Ipswich IP3 0BW

Admission: Adults: £16.50, Children up to 14 years: £9.50, Children under 4 years: free

Created by Dutch TV and theatre producer Sir Aad Peters, The Ark is a half-sized replica of Noah’s original boat and an educational and cultural celebration of many of the Bible’s legendary stories. From Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Goliath and countless more, this quirky, creative, and extraordinary space is an experience visitors will never forget.

Covering 2,000 square metres and four floors, the biblical stories are brought to life through an array of unique wooden carved sculptures, the centre of which is the tree of life growing 12 metres up through the middle of the ship.

No matter what you believe, the Ark creates a talking point for visitors to reflect on and discuss their own experiences, often finding common ground on stories shared between people with or without faith.

The Ark is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Family or partners from one household are able to enjoy the exhibition together. Maximum people from one household is six persons. Groups will be kept at two metres apart and invited to follow the one-way route. Use hand sanitizers placed around the exhibition.

Sutton Hoo

Tranmer House, Woodbridge IP12 3DJ

Admission: Adult: £8, Child: £4, Family: £20

The High Hall Exhibition, Tranmer House and shop are reopening on Monday August 24, there will be free entry for members but pre-booking is required for everyone.

This hauntingly beautiful 255 acre estate, with far-reaching views over the River Deben, is home to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. The ship burial discovered in September 1939 is believed to belong to Saxon King Raedwald.

Walk around the Royal Burial Ground and discover the incredible story of the ship burial and the lives of the Anglo-Saxons living in Suffolk, making this an important trading centre with Europe and the world.

Visitors can also explore Tranmer House, the home of Edith Pretty who owned the estate and commissioned the dig when she thought she saw ancient figures walking on the burial mounds in the evenings. The house is an immaculate slice of early 20th century living.

Stonham Barns

Pettaugh Road, Stonham Aspal, IP14 6AT

Admission: Varies

Stonham Barns Park is open and for the safety of all staff and visitors there are Covid 19 safety measures in place, including hand sanitiser units located around the park. Tumbledown and the bouncy pillow will remain closed until the necessary government guidelines for use are released.

Suffolk Owl Sanctuary is where you can see an amazing range of birds of prey, Red Squirrels, the Raptor Hospital, The Barclays Sensory Garden, an information centre about Owls, a woodland walk, picnic areas and plenty of activities for children including a mini-maze, adventure frame and the Meerkat Kastle.

The Golfzone offers a range of activities from our recently opened indoor golf simulators, Streetgolf driving range, chip’n’putt course, Footgolf, Golf Darts, a nine hole golf course and a fabulous Pirate themed adventure golf course which is perfect to get all the family involved in.

If you are feeling arty then a visit Carters of Suffolk will be a good idea. They have been producing handmade, hand painted novel and collectable teapots since the 1970’s and you can see the teapots being made and painted and learn about each stage of the manufacturing process. You can even paint your own pottery where you can create your own holiday souvenir masterpiece, the fun never stops!

If your energy flags pop into The Bistro for a well-deserved break and grab yourself a drink, a bite to eat and maybe a treat for the kiddies inside Molly Blogs Olde Sweet Shoppe. To finish the day off why not book your tickets for one of the fabulous shows at the Aspal Theatre. If that is not enough to keep you busy Stonham Barns also have a large number of events going on during the summer on the showground including car shows, dog shows, children shows and music shows.

With the site open 7 days a week, offering ample fun for all ages, a day out at Stonham Barns in the beautiful Suffolk Countryside could be just what you and your family need. You can gain more information about the various summer events on the website.

Ipswich Museum

High St, Ipswich IP1 3QH

Admission: Free but timed entry essential

The museum has now re-opened but visitors will have to book in advance. You can book your visit up to seven days in advance, either online or by calling 01473 433100 between 9.30am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Once inside, there are new one-way systems in place with plenty of arrows and signage to help show you the way and hand sanitising stations have installed throughout. There are no areas for waiting, so visitors are requested not to arrive more than five minutes before their start time.

Due to social distancing and safety guidelines, some seating has been removed and interactive displays and some areas of the museum may be inaccessible. Toilets will be available but will have a limited capacity.

Christchurch Mansion

Soane St, Ipswich IP4 2BE

Admission: Free but timed entry essential

Christchurch Mansion and the Wolsey Gallery, has reopened and the critically acclaimed Ed Sheeran exhibition: Made in Suffolk has been extended until November. Timed entry visits are simple to book, just pick a time between 10am – 4.30pm (Tuesday – Saturday) and 11am – 4.30pm (Sundays). You can ask our team any questions or discuss special requirements when you phone.

You can book your visit up to seven days in advance. Tickets can be booked online or by calling 01473 433100 between the hours of 9.30am – 5.30pm (Monday – Friday). Subject to availability you may be able to visit the same day as booking. Entrance to the mansion is through the backdoor and the main entrance onto the front lawn is being used as the exit.

You can book up to six people from the same household/bubble per timed entry. Your contact information will be held on record for 21 days from the date of your visit to assist with Test and Trace if required.

Please note that your ticket will not allow you re-entry all day. Your visit will be concluded once you exit the museum. There is no time limit for your visit, but visitors are asked to follow the one-way system.

Moyse’s Hall Museum

Market Place, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 1DX

Admission: Adult: £5, Concs: £3, Child: £3, Family: £15

The Museum has now fully re-opened. Situated in a beautiful medieval building, Moyse’s Hall Museum houses eclectic collections and exhibitions, and hosts events ranging from themed craft workshops for all the family to historical talks and lectures.

Moyse’s Hall will be offering families the chance to book onto special Horrible Histories inspired tours every Wednesday and Friday. Every Monday the museum will offer the public the chance to see the ‘hidden histories’ of the collection up close and like never seen before.

On Tuesdays the heritage team will be creating a new treasure hunt around the museum; with mini-mission and activities along the way. Every Thursday will include demonstrations of historic trade, some grotty and some beautiful; including history, science and maths learning outcomes.

The museum offers a fascinating view into the past with collections that document the foundation of the early town – from the creation and dissolution of the abbey, to prison paraphernalia and artefacts providing intriguing insights into superstition and witchcraft.

In addition to the world class collection of rare timepieces bequeathed by musician and clock collector Frederic Gershom Parkington and a gallery dedicated to the Suffolk Regiment, the museum also houses an impressive art collection. The current exhibition, East Anglian Artists and their Contemporaries, runs until September 30. It features local artists like Rose Mead, Henry Bunbury and Sybil Andrews and puts them in context alongside contemporaries like Sir Peter Lely, Gerard Soest, James Tissot and Thomas Rowlandson.

The museum has Covid safety measures in place including: contactless payment for entry and the shops (no cash payments) and restricted numbers being admitted.

There are more details on the museum website.

Colchester Castle

Colchester Castle Park, CO1 1TJ

Admission: Adult: £10, Child: £5.95, Student & Concs: £6.95

After many months with its historic doors closed to the public, Colchester Castle iwill re-open on Thursday, July 23.

However, when its doors are swung open things may look a little different, but this is to ensure everyone is kept and feels safe. Visitors to the castle are asked to call ahead and book a timed slot. This is to make sure that the Castle doesn’t have too many people in the building at any one time, and that everyone has plenty of opportunity to enjoy the exhibits.

The new timed entry slots are easy to book, simply pick a time between 10am and 4pm (Mon-Sat) or 11am and 4pm (Sun) and call the booking desk on 01206 282939. You will still need to call if you have a Resident Pass, just make sure you have your pass details handy.

Arrive no more than five minutes before your booked time. Markers will be in place and you will be asked to abide by social distancing rules to ensure the comfort and safety of everyone.

Once inside the Castle your journey through history will be directed by a new one-way system. Don’t worry, you will still have plenty of time to stop and look at the exhibits as always but do be mindful of other visitors and remember to socially distance.

Some interactive exhibits may not be available, but the team will be trying to keep things as normal as possible. Hand sanitiser stations will be available along the way, too, and new signage will guide visitors safely through their time exploring the museum.

The Castle’s Escape Experience is also back running for private groups of up to six people. These bookings must be a ‘bubble’ or family group from the same household. There are a limited number of dates and times available. Please call 01206 282939 for more details. Cost £60 per session.


Lewis Gardens, High Street, Colchester CO1 1JH

Admission: Children and Families: Free, Exhibitions: Free

Firstsite in Colchester has now reopened and has a packed programme of art and culture to help everyone to reflect, refresh and reconnect.

The doors open at 10am, with a raft of new measures in place to provide visitors with a calm, secure and comfortable visit. Visitors do not have to book tickets to attend, but numbers will be carefully managed throughout the day to maintain two-metre physical distancing, along with a one-way path throughout. Hand sanitiser stations have been installed at key points in the building.

For added health, security and peace of mind for visitors and staff, Firstsite has also installed Perspex screens at locations such as the Welcome Desk and shop till, and staff will wear PPE in food preparation areas and where social distancing is difficult to maintain. Only cashless payments will now be accepted. The wearing of face coverings will be encouraged upon entering the building and will be required in the Firstsite shop.

Firstsite will be hosting a number of new and extended exhibitions, which explore themes of well-being, connection, creativity and community:

Colchester and Ipswich Art Societies: Borders: brings together landscape pieces from over 120 local artists, depicting their mutual border, the River Stour. Through painting, print, sculpture and textile, the exhibition as a whole reflects the lure of the river as a subject. Hung geographically to mirror the flow of the river, visitors are encouraged to take a trip downstream, to encounter expressions of the river and the landscape and life that surrounds it. It’s a trip that celebrates the thriving creativity of the region, the joy of making and the enjoyment and well-being gained through experiencing art.

Afro Futures – UK: Unravelling New Futures explores how black experience, technology and historical narratives can inspire new ways of thinking and help us imagine new collective futures.

Sonia Coode-Adams: Lockdown Garden features tranquil watercolour landscapes of the garden at Feeringbury Manor, created by the artist during the imposed lockdown. Whilst shielding, Sonia Coode-Adams took the opportunity to return to painting after a hiatus of many years, and through this series of artworks she celebrates the garden and explores the soothing influence of nature as the landscape transitions from spring to summer.

Tell Me The Story Of All These Things runs until October 11. It brings artworks by some of Britain’s most celebrated artists, including Turner Prize nominees Tracey Emin and Cornelia Parker and Turner Prize-winner Gillian Wearing CBE, to Colchester in this new exhibition presented by Firstsite and the Arts Council Collection.

Firstsite is also hosting Holiday Fun, a variety of safe, socially-distanced activities for children. Coaches from Colchester United, will be leading a series of physical games and challenges. Free nutritious lunches will be available to any family who feels they will benefit from this service and all children attending either activity will receive a free creative activity to take home at the end of the day. While all activities are free, booking is essential.

Colchester Zoo

Maldon Rd, Heckfordbridge, Colchester CO3 0SL

Admission: Adult: £21; Concs: £19, Child: £15

Colchester Zoo, one of the top zoos and conservation centres in the country, home to 220 species of animal, bird and reptile, has re-opened with extensive social distancing to make sure staff and visitors are safe. The majority of the 60 acre site is open-air, with wide pathways and open areas and is an ideal location for those who would like to venture outside and reconnect with nature but within a safe environment.

The zoo have introduced a number of restrictions and conditions including: restrictions on the number of visitors per day, a one-way route to ensure social distancing measures are maintained, all visitors, including passholders, must buy/reserve tickets in advance online, tickets will be available online in 30-minute time slots to stagger arrivals throughout the day. All visitors are being asked to bring face coverings and wash hands regularly during their visit. Additional hand sanitising stations are going to be in place throughout the park and for those who require them, face masks will be available to buy.

Tickets must be booked in advance on the zoo’s website.

Museum of East Anglian Life

Iliffe Way, Stowmarket IP14 1SL

Admission: Adult: £12, Concs: £10, Child: £8, Family: £35

With 17 historic buildings set in 75 acres of beautiful countryside, the Museum of East Anglian Life is the largest independent museum in Suffolk. The museum is an educational charity caring for more than 40,000 objects – once the everyday items of East Anglian life. The collection has a particular focus on the production of food and the region’s social history, reflecting our strong agricultural character.

The museum and the Osier Cafe has now re-opened. You do not have to book in advance but it will help if you do. This summer’s temporary exhibition is The Year I went Heywire, a new art collection made from litter discarded by telecom operatives in Woolpit and surrounding Suffolk villages.

What do you do when you see litter? Ignore it or pick it up, collect it and make it into art? That’s exactly what artist Chrissie O’Connor has done.

Chrissie’s frustration began in 2015 when she started to notice litter discarded by telecom engineers at junction boxes in her home of Woolpit. She saw that lots of small pieces of litter add up to a much larger global impact.

The work includes art made from found discarded materials such as crimp connectors, wire clippings, cable ties, crocodile clips, electrical wiring and general debris. A particularly poignant piece is the bunting containing plastic debris collected over the course of 116 days.

Tickets can be booked on the museum’s website.

East Anglian Railway Museum

Chappel Station, Colchester, CO6 2DS

Admission: Adults & Seniors: £7, Child (4-15): £4, Under 4’s: FREE

The East Anglian Railway Museum, with its atmospheric Victorian buildings, restored trains and working signal boxes, is open to visitors again on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only. New stringent cleaning regimes have been put in place as well as additional hand sanitising units and social distancing measures, signage and one-way systems. The 17 acre museum site enables easy social distancing and there is plenty of space for picnics as well as outdoor seating and take-away service in Platform 2 Cafe.

The heritage centre allows visitors a hands-on close up look at the people who built and ran the railways in East Anglia. There is something to interest all ages, including interactive signal panels and hands-on exhibits for children to engage with. Big button telephones are located throughout the site so you can listen to audio recordings about a range of topics.

You can also visit the Restoration Shed to see work being carried out on vintage steam locomotives and rolling stock and get close to some vintage memorabilia in The Goods Shed.

Steam Experience Days are currently suspended because of the social distancing regulations.

Book tickets online here

Bressingham Steam Museum and Gardens

Low Rd, Diss IP22 2AA

Admission: Adult: £14.53, Concs: £13.63, Child: £9.08

The Gardens and Steam Museum have now re-opened for pre-booked visitors only. The museum is now operating at least two narrow gauge railways and The Gallopers, the exhibition hall and outside play areas are open too. Snacks and hot drinks are available from the play area as take away. Face coverings must be worn to travel on the trains and the Gallopers.

The Fire Rally and the East Anglian Garden Rail Show events have been cancelled but the Steam in Miniature Weekend on Saturday and Sunday August 8-9 is going ahead and the Steampunk Weekend has been moved to Saturday and Sunday August 29-30.

You can book online for day visits and weekend events at Bressingham’s website

Colne Valley Railway

Yeldham Road, Castle Hedingham, CO9 3DZ

Admission: Adult: £8, Concs (over 60): £6.50, Child (3-15): £5

The railway has limited re-opening from Sunday July 26 with 1960s heritage diesel trains running. The Colne Valley Railway is to re-open with a special train service protecting the health of passengers and staff with socially distanced seats being booked on-line and the compulsory wearing of face masks.

Trains will be cleaned after every journey, surfaces wiped, while also being sanitised with a long-lasting spray proven to kill the virus. Seating on trains will be limited to ensure that social distancing can be maintained.

All seats will be pre-booked in family groups of up to six to prevent overcrowding. Booking slots will be at 10 minute arrival intervals – visitors will then get on the next available train once they are on site. There will be a one way system around the site and in buildings.

To protect the health of passengers and staff, there will be no toilets on the trains but the toilets will be open at the reception building.

Some facilities will not be open to protect the staff working in them (e.g. the Signal Box), but most are expected to be open including the new Brewster Centre and Museum and Model Railway. Subject to weather conditions, the miniature railway should also be open.

Catering facilities will be limited to take away only with open air seating at picnic tables. Unfortunately, to protect staff, the trains will temporarily not be able to accommodate wheelchair users.

Tickets can be booked on the website.

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